Fantasy Baseball 2012: 5 Middle Relievers for Your Consideration

Charles Bennett@chasbennettonbrSenior Analyst IMay 27, 2012

Fantasy Baseball 2012: 5 Middle Relievers for Your Consideration

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    If you're in a large league, an AL or NL-only league, a league with deep rosters or a league that tracks holds, you'll need to get a middle reliever.  And you'll want a middleman who can do as many as possible of the following:

    • Have great metrics (ERA, WHIP, BA allowed, etc.)
    • Have a solid number of strikeouts per nine
    • Get a lot of holds
    • Have a strong chance of taking over the closer slot

    Here are five middle relievers, all of whom are free agents in at least 80 percent of leagues, for your consideration.

Players Who AREN'T Being Considered on This List

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    The following middlemen are owned by more than 20 percent of owners, and as such, I have left them out. That doesn't mean you still shouldn't consider them, but in many leagues, you won't have a chance to.

    • Jonny Venters (42 percent owned)
    • Pedro Strop (31 percent)
    • Matt Thornton (27 percent)
    • Francisco Cordero (27 percent)
    • Sergio Romo (26 percent)
    • Vinnie Pestano (22 percent)

    While each of these are available in more than half of leagues, they are the more then half of leagues where a middle reliever is not needed.

5. Tom Wilhelmsen, Mariners

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    ESPN percent owned: Zero

    Yahoo percent owned: Five

    Brandon League has blown more saves than anybody in the American League this season, is 0-4, he has a 4.43 ERA and just 5.8 strikeouts per nine innings. It would appear that he is in danger of losing his job.

    Wilhelmsen isn't much better in any aspect but strikeouts (11.1 per nine innings), but if you are looking for someone who is very likely to step into the closer's role, Wilhelmsen could be it...he is the third-most added reliever this weekend.

4. Randy Choate, Marlins

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    ESPN percent owned: 0.2

    Yahoo percent owned: Three

    Heath Bell (8.47 ERA, four blown saves) has continued to look vulnerable as the Marlins closer, and the two leading candidates to replace him are Steve Cishek and Randy Choate.

    Of the two, Choate is both the more available and the one with better metrics. In 15 innings, he has 10 holds, one save, no losses or blown saves and 15 Ks. His ERA and WHIP are both below 1.00

3. Tim Byrdak, Mets

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    ESPN percent owned: Zero

    Yahoo percent owned: Five

    The lefty Byrdak is one of the better seasons among Mets relievers. He has a 0.70 WHIP and is hurling for 12.8 strikes per nine.

    With Frank Francisco having three defeats and an ERA of 6.75, there's definitely a chance that Byrdak could get save opportunities.

2. Joakim Benoit, Tigers

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    ESPN percent owned: 6.4

    Yahoo percent owned: 16

    Joakim Benoit is fast becoming unavailable in middle-reliever leagues, so grab him when you can, i.e., immediately.

    Benoit is seventh in the American League with 13.5 strikeouts per nine and is the only player in the AL to be in the top 10 in strikeouts per nine and have double-digit holds.

    One drawback: He's conceding a .341 on-base percentage

1. Jason Grilli, Pirates

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    ESPN percent owned: 0.5

    Yahoo percent owned: Six

    Jason Grilli is one of the best middle relievers in the National League. Grilli has 33 strikeouts in 18 frames of work, a better strikeouts per nine number than the vaunted Aroldis Chapman. He's recorded 11 holds and a win in relief in that span.  

    He has a 2.00 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He's the only player to be in the top five in strikeouts per nine in his league and have double-digit holds.

    Downside: He's pitching ahead of Joel Hanrahan, and don't look for him to be replacing Hanrahan soon.